Rochester Hills Stoney Creek celebrates its Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 Competitive Cheer State Championship win at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena March 1.

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek celebrates its Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 Competitive Cheer State Championship win at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena March 1.

Photo provided by the MHSAA/Hockey Weekly

Stoney Creek cheer best in state with D1 state title, Adams earns runner-up

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Rochester Post | Published March 20, 2024


ROCHESTER HILLS — For the past three seasons, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek’s senior group has watched its neighborhood rivals celebrate at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 Competitive Cheer State Championship.

Rochester raised the title in 2023, while both Rochester and Stoney Creek witnessed the emergence of Rochester Adams behind three-straight state championships from 2020 to 2022.

The Cougars’ 2024 senior class was in the rearview of Adams’ 2022 state title as state runners-up, and they were determined to make sure their high school career wouldn’t be remembered with a second-place finish.

“I think that was definitely our pushing point from that moment, because we were like, ‘We want to earn that championship title,’” Stoney Creek senior Ariana Rabaut said. “We didn’t settle for second place. We were happy at the time, but going forward we were like, ‘We’re getting this by the time we graduate.’ We did really use it as motivation, and we saw how their teams were and we wanted to embody that, but we wanted to make it our own.”

In front of a packed crowd of more than 3,000 attendees at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena March 1, Stoney Creek faced off against its neighborhood counterparts in what has become a state finals tradition for the past two decades, and for the first time since 2019, Stoney Creek was the best in the state.

Besting second-place Adams 792.98-791.56, Stoney Creek’s senior class entered a moment they had only replayed over and over in their dreams but could never have imagined how it truly felt. Rochester finished in third.

“I feel like we were all just so excited, but at the same time so in shock, because we had never felt anything like this before,” Rabaut said. “We had no words. We were speechless, because our name had never gotten called last, and that was probably the best moment of my entire career.”

For some Stoney Creek cheerleaders, they can’t even recall the surreal moment that led Stoney Creek to becoming three-time state champions.

“It was almost like a blackout moment,” Stoney Creek senior Alison Kalaj said. “I don’t even remember our name getting called last, because I was like, ‘What is happening?’”

Similar to their regional showing this year that ended with the Cougars becoming regional champions, Stoney Creek stormed out the gate with point advantages in rounds one and two over Rochester and Adams.

Competing against each other all year can give the three Rochester schools insight on each other, and Stoney Creek knew what they needed to do early on.

“Every cheer team goes to cheer camps and does their clinics, but sometimes it can get a little awkward, because we all attend the same camps, games and clinics,” Stoney Creek senior Charlotte Cahill said. “We see each other at football games and stuff like that, so sometimes there’s more pressure going to a football game cheering when you know that the team across the field from you is going to be competing for a state title in a few months. I think that is pressure that no one else in the state can understand or get.”

While carrying the lead into round three, Adams had emphasized their round three throughout the season, besting Stoney Creek and Rochester on a regular basis.

The three-round cheer competitions consist of jumps and motions in the first round; synchronized movements along with executing certain skills such as tumbling, skill and flexibility in the second round; and visual elements, stunting and a more fun approach in the third round.

Some teams with a lead may try to play the final round more conservatively, but Stoney Creek head coach Tricia Williams elected to keep the fire her team was cheering with.

“With our round three, Rochester and Rochester Adams have been pretty consistently outscoring us by a little bit throughout the year, but one thing we didn’t do is we didn’t dumb down our round,” Williams said. “Our round three was full of elite, high-level skills. We do more stunts than the average team, and we’re on the floor for the full time allotment that not all the other teams are.”

Adams, who were district champions for the fifth-straight season ahead of Stoney Creek and Rochester, would come out on top in the round three but not enough to catch up to Stoney Creek.

Adams featured one of the younger teams in the state this year with 18 of their 30 cheerleaders being underclassmen, with five seniors at the helm.

Being young and energetic, Adams head coach Brooke Miller said, her team was motivated throughout the season, and the Highlanders will be undoubtedly ready for another shot at the state finals next year.

“With this team, you ask them to jump and they say, ‘How high?’” Miller said. “They don’t care if they’re best friends with someone on the team or not, they’ll go over and help without being asked to do so. It’s truly one of the best teams as far as that is concerned that I’ve coached in a long time.”

It’s a tough departure for the Highlanders senior class, including senior Lily Hittle, who’s been a part of two state champions during her tenure.

She has an endless list of accolades to her name, including a first team all-state honor this year, but Hittle said she’s excited to see her neighborhood rivals succeed.

“I know some of those girls, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” Hittle said. “I was so proud and happy for them to take that title. Obviously, wishing it was us too, but I couldn’t be happier for them. Even when Rochester won it last year, I was so happy for them too. I think it goes all three ways for all three schools. We’re all happy for each other.”

It may be an intense rivalry on the mat, but all three schools know they’re better because of each other and the way in which they push each other to be better.

There’s also an added element of competition when competing against friends they’ve known since they were children, which always brings a little humility to the rivalry of the Rochester schools.

“If you come to a league meet and you see us all sitting on the mat, and don’t get me wrong, every single one of us wants to beat the other teams, because the competitiveness is definitely there, but the girls have friends on the other teams,” Williams said. “They live in the same town, they went to the same dance classes and the same Brownie troops growing up. They live right down the road, so there’s lots of picture-taking with a couple of Adams, a couple of Rochester, and a couple of Stoney girls at each level with just girls that they’ve known growing up who share the same love of the sport. We just happen to be in a different boundary line and a different high school.”

Stoney Creek cheerleaders: Kacey Bauer (Sr./1st team all-State), Charlotte Cahill (Sr./1st team all-State), Gracie Darling (Sr./1st team all-State), Abigail DeGraw (Sr./1st team all-State), Sofia Finazzo (Sr.), Alison Kalaj (Sr./1st team all-State), Lily Leone (Sr./2nd team all-State), Laura Machak (Sr.), Helena Merritt (Sr.), Ariana Rabaut (Sr./1st team all-State), Jane Stabnick (Sr./2nd team all-State), Sarah Adams (Jr./2nd team all-State), Ava Boland (Jr.), Sophia Brusseau (Jr./HM), Grace Pererra (Jr.), Sienna Wills (Jr./HM), Mia Badalucco (Soph.), Elle Brandimarte (Soph.), Taylor Brandimarte (Soph.), Briana Cairns (Soph.), Avery Chmielewski (Soph.), Allee Depp (Soph.), Mary Guitron Ortiz (Soph.), Audrey Harvath (Soph.), Kendall Keller (Soph.), Natalie Marco (Soph./HM), Julia McDermott (Soph.), Cassidy Niester (Soph.), Ariana Phelps (Soph.), Ally Schamanek (Soph.), Isabel Williams (Fr.), Laila Biondo (Fr.).


Rochester Adams cheerleaders: Trisha Bartolome (Sr./1st team all-State), Lily Hittle (Sr./1st team all-State), Lindsay Kesman (Sr./1st team all-State), Reese Patyi (Sr./1st team all-State), Savannah Rambow (Sr./2nd team all-State), Hope Antonellie (Jr.), Maria Caradonna (Jr./2nd team all-State), Mei Enokida (Jr.), Ibuki Furusato (Jr.), Cara Gould (Jr.), Elle Powers (Jr.), Lia Sukkar (Jr.), Queralt Abaurrea (Soph.), Liv Carline (Soph.), Nikala Hall (Soph./2nd team all-State), Kennedy Hartley (Soph.), Natalie Hopkins (Soph.), Lauren Kantzer (Soph.), Ava MacDonald (Soph.), Valeria Martinez-Serna (Soph.), Madison Michalkow (Soph.), Lauren Redmond (Soph.), Libby Schultz (Soph./HM), Kylie Smyth (Soph.), Mia VanHulle (Soph.), Alyssa Walker (Soph.), Gabriella Montgomery (Fr./HM), Delaney Sims (Fr.), Paige Adragna (Fr.), Adriana Palazzolo (Fr.).


Rochester cheerleaders: Kelly Burdick (Sr.), Madison Carpenter (Sr./1st team all-State), Lena Cleveland (Sr./1st team all-State), Sarah Newport (Sr./1st team all-State), Morgan Calcagno (Jr./HM), Samantha Dick (Jr.), Elizabeth Faglie (Jr.), Raegan Farley (Jr.), Ivana Ghafari (Jr.), Natalia Grabovac (Jr./2nd team all-State), Isabella Gungab (Jr./2nd team all-State), Aubrey Hillard (Jr.), Riley Hubbard (Jr.), Elizabeth Orris (Jr.), Momoko Paris (Jr.), Natalie Cote (Soph.), Aubrey Dettloff (Soph.), Ivy Galens (Soph.), Lina Gianzante (Soph.), Audrey Henckel (Soph.), Lily Imlay (Soph.), Claire O’Neil (Soph./HM), Kara Sawicki (Fr.), Kassandra Nicholas (Fr.), Sienna Lee (Fr.), Ellianna Bohannon (Fr.).